It is generally forbidden to get out of mobile platforms at height. Is it always? What is the practice like? This is a problem that is currently faced by, inter alia, companies assembling and servicing overhead cranes. In a series of two articles, the authors will explain what it looks like in practice and in the light of legal and health and safety requirements.


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The Haulotte manufacturer's DTR does not provide for the possibility of leaving the basket at a height
Photo Haulotte

Some have certainly seen a scene in which several service technicians put together the so-called Warsaw scaffolding, and after assembly, it enters the damaged crane bridge. It happened in the 90s. At that time, however, it was a rather rare case, because the existing halls were equipped with longitudinal galleries, which allowed for safe entry to the track, and then to the crane bridge at any point of its stopping. Along with the increase in investments, a trend, generally popular in Western countries, appeared, consisting in the elimination of galleries along the track, especially in situations where the level of the track did not exceed the height of 6 m. This significantly reduced the investment costs. Access to the operation and maintenance of cranes was secured by purchasing a slow-moving mobile platform, which was used to operate many cranes and perform all the works necessary for maintenance. For 25 years, these solutions have dominated the design of the hall structures and resulted in the elimination of platforms from double-girder cranes installed in low-height halls. Along with them, however, another problem appeared in companies assembling and servicing cranes: How to safely enter the crane bridge or the subgrade from the mobile platform? not allowed. It is hardly surprising, because mass-produced platforms must limit the spectrum of threats to foreseeable situations.

Construction companies using platforms for construction and assembly works in their OHS instructions prohibit work in inclination outside the basket, and if such a need arises, the employee must be equipped with individual fall protection equipment and indicate anchoring points.

The vast majority of manufacturers of mobile platforms do not take into account the possibility of leaving the basket in their design solutions. Climbing over the protective railings of the basket increases the risk even more. Dynamic introduction of load on the side of the cage may generate a torsional moment, which may lead to the boom twisting or loss of platform stability. Another problem is the behavior of the hydraulic system in the event of dynamic loads.

The Technical Supervision Authority is of the opinion that the device should be used in accordance with its intended purpose. Therefore, if the manufacturer clearly indicates in the operation and maintenance documentation that leaving the platform is not allowed, it means that this recommendation should be followed.

In practice, however, there are a number of situations in which the exit from the mobile platform is often the only or the safest solution. They are, for example:

  • levacating people from balconies during a fire (performed by the fire brigade with a mobile platform dedicated to such actions);
  • evacuation of an employee who suffered an accident on an overhead crane at a height of several meters, and local fire brigades do not have special trucks with a platform;
  • evacuation of the operator from the crane's cabin, who has fainted and the mobile platform is the only means at his disposal;
  • entering the crane bridge during assembly or service activities;
  • entrance to the crane gallery in order to remove the failure;
  • going out onto the roof of the building during roofing works.

So what can and should be done to avoid unfortunate accidents when entering / exiting the bin in the future?

It is worth taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of other European countries, such as Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, which have faced this problem. In the next article, the legal conditions used by these countries will be analyzed. Then, approximate new solutions that provide for the possibility of leaving the basket and returning to the raised position of the mobile platform, provided that certain specific rules are followed. The author of this part will be Rafał Knotek-Trościanko, Training Manager at Ergon Personnel Training Center.

Mobile platforms are devices from the group of cranes that are subject to the act on technical inspection. Therefore, they are subject to acceptance tests, periodic and ad hoc technical supervision, and their operation is possible after obtaining the approval for operation. The act on technical inspection requires the operating and maintenance personnel to have qualification certificates for the operation and maintenance of mobile platforms. In order to obtain them, applicants must pass an exam consisting of theoretical and practical parts before the committee of the Office of Technical Inspection. Repairs and modernization of mobile platforms may only be performed by plants authorized by the Office of Technical Inspection.

The list of the most frequently identified threats resulting from the non-compliance of the mobile access platform with the requirements is included in the Regulation of the Minister of Economy of October 30, 2002. On the minimum requirements for occupational health and safety in the use of machines by employees at work (Journal of Laws No. 191, item 1596) , as amended).

There is a common belief among users of mobile platforms that getting out of the basket / platform located at a height is not allowed. This recommendation is supported by centers that train operators, and the guidelines of the vast majority of manufacturers of mobile platforms explicitly prohibit such activities.
Climbing up and out of the platforms at a height is generally prohibited by most platform manufacturers. It is also forbidden by the technical inspection and health and safety regulations in force in Poland, which stipulate that the basic obligation of the operator is to comply with the operating instructions of the machines. Nevertheless, the regulations of international organizations dealing with work safety on mobile platforms show that in special cases it is possible to go out and climb over the work platform. Each time, this activity must take place under the condition of applying appropriate organizational and technical measures.
Mobile platforms are primarily intended for lifting people and their tools and materials to a specific height in order to perform a specific job. This is due to the specificity of this type of machine, as it was not designed to be used as cranes or lifts (elevators) for transporting loads or people from one level to another. As standard, the platform installed on the mobile platform is climbed on or off when the machine is in its folded position. Therefore, lowering it when the platform is unfolded and the platform is at a height, in most cases it is not allowed.
However, practice shows that in some situations lowering the platform / basket at a height could increase work safety and facilitate or accelerate the implementation of tasks. Of course, it is then necessary to follow the appropriate recommendations so that employees are aware that they can only work outside the work platform in certain situations.
In 2015, the International Federation of Producers and Users of Lifting Equipment (IPAF) developed general recommendations and procedures for leaving the platform basket at height (IPAF TGN E20815). The international group of experts DACHS from Switzerland, Germany and Italy also prepared their own recommendations on the rules and regulations for the use of fall protection measures in workplaces at heights.
ergon1General recommendations and procedures for exiting the platform basket at height have been developed by the International Federation of Producers and Users of Lifting Equipment (IPAF))

These organizations indicate that it may be possible to get out of a device while in the raised position if:

  • a detailed risk assessment clearly shows that the exit is the safest and most effective way to access the location,
  • it is part of an ongoing emergency plan or rescue operation.
So let's look at what requirements should be met by the employer before skilled operators and workers are allowed to go outside the bin. In particular, it is necessary to carry out a detailed hazard analysis and risk assessment for a given task, as well as undertake and apply the resulting preventive protection measures.
In the situation of Polish legal conditions, the operator should also apply to the appropriate unit of the technical inspection authority for a consent to derogate from the scope of extending the intended use of the machine and performing such activities. The above action should be preceded not only by the recommended risk assessment, but also the development of the appropriate instructions for the implementation of this type of work, conducting periodic health and safety and altitude training, including the use of personal protective equipment, taking into account these works as particularly dangerous work. For example, in the construction industry, a work safety instruction (IBWR) is developed. The above actions should be approved by the health and safety service and approved by the employer / site manager.
The risk assessment must show that exiting the aerial platform is the safest way to access the workplace and that other access methods have been rejected due to the greater risk of an accident.

Factors that should be taken into account when assessing the risk related to the place of work outside the platform:

  • location and dimensions of the destination outside the basket / platform,
  • tilt angle and surface quality of the destination,
  • prevailing weather conditions, including wind force, rainfall, temperature,
  • operational requirements related to the task being performed,
  • possible disruptions in communication.

 

ergon2 Climbing the outside of the valley is a safer alternative than climbing the 85-meter roof truss to the point where the skeleton joins the arch structure.

It is particularly important to carry out a site assessment and implement appropriate security measures. The technical limitations of the mobile platform should also be taken into account. Each platform has the permissible load specified by the manufacturer in relation to the number of people, tools and materials. In addition, the platform has certain operating parameters and exceeding them may result in an accident, for example due to the loss of stability. The platform must also be equipped with anchor points for personal protective equipment, protection against falls and for tools.

Employees must be familiarized with the risk assessment and organizational and technical measures, individual and collective protection, and trained in instructions as part of specialist workplace training.

When planning the exit from the basket at a height, the following points should be taken into account:

  • selection of appropriate methods of preventing accidents when leaving the platform and entering it,
  • when an employee leaves the platform, an authorized, authorized and competent operator must remain in it,
  • if an employee takes off or brings in handy materials / tools, they can dynamically affect the platform depending on its type - mobile platforms with rigid structures are safer, which reduce the movement between the working platform and the workplace outside when going out and entering the basket at a height ,
  • the possibility of free movement resulting from the lateral forces on the ground and at height should be assessed, and if the range of motion when applying the permissible lateral force exceeds 300 mm, the platform should not be used,
  • the machine should be secured against unexpected or accidental movement,
  • when lowering the machine, the employee is to use the entry / exit points only for this purpose - you cannot climb the balustrades, barriers
  • if it is possible, the working platform should be placed in such a position that the entrance gate opens from the edge of the structure,
  • keep the horizontal and vertical safe distance of the basket from the entry / exit location of 120 mm,
  • Appropriate anchor points must be selected for the safe use of protection measures at height,
  • there should be trained personnel on the ground to facilitate any evacuation or rescue operation,
  • communication between people on the ground and those working at height should be ensured,
  • constant supervision of the person managing the works is necessary to ensure that the safety rules are observed by all employees.

When assessing the existing risks, the following should be considered:

  • potential risk that, under changing conditions, the employee may fall off the platform while leaving the platform or climbing the platform at a height,
  • falling factor,
  • dropping tools or materials
  • sudden, unexpected movement of the aerial platform, for example due to faulty control or human error,
  • sharp edges of the platform that may cause injury,
  • movement of other devices - generally, movement should not take place in the lifting zone and around the chassis of the machine,
  • panic attacks of the employee during sudden movement of the machine,
  • stability issues, because the platform cannot be loaded with additional forces exceeding its permissible operating parameters.
When leaving and entering the basket / platform at a height, it is necessary to constantly use fall protection measures. Guidelines for the selection and use of a fall arrest harness are included in PN-EN 363: 2005. It is imperative to use the double twin rope locks correctly. The length of the rope on the harness is to be up to 1.8 m (including the shock absorber, carabiner and other accessories).
In the case of zones where there are no permanent edge or safety systems, this type of work should only be carried out by competent personnel trained in rope access, i.e. assembly of workstations and individual safety systems as well as auto-rescue.
The site manager should be responsible for determining the anchoring points on a structure with adequate strength (> 6 kN per building / structure, not per cage). Importantly, the sole anchoring of the harness in the machine basket should be avoided. Anchoring points should comply with the PN-EN 795: 2012 standard.

The process of leaving the basket and entering it at a height:

ergon3During the exit of one person, the authorized operator must always remain in the raised platform
  • a person going beyond the basket hooks to the anchoring point and disconnects from the point in the basket,
  • the person leaves to do the work, the operator remains in the basket,
  • after completing the work, the person returns to the bin from the same place,
  • the basket should be stabilized by a second person,
  • the person attaches to the anchoring point in the basket and unhooking from the anchoring point outside the basket.

 

When leaving the basket, pay attention to the strength and surface of the roof or other structure on which you intend to climb. It is allowed to walk only on surfaces not covered with slippery or brittle material, with edge protection such as balustrades and edgings.

 

It should be remembered that only people who left it earlier may return to the landing. When leaving the basket and entering it, the position of the platform should be the same. When a person who has not been on the platform before, for example in an emergency, in addition to taking special precautions, also take into account the weight of the person in order not to exceed the limits of the permissible load.

 

On the basis of Polish law, it is the manufacturer who determines the purpose of the device in its user manual, as mentioned above, about leaving and entering the work platform. However, with the consent of the technical supervision, a possible deviation from the standard procedure can be obtained. For this purpose, the basis for such action is the development of risk assessment and instructions, as well as providing training on the basis of general health and safety regulations, as well as detailed regulations in the field of organization for particularly dangerous, industry-specific work, related to safety, among others. Building.

 

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When making any movements in the space of the basket and outside it, remember that only formal actions are not sufficient. The organizers of this type of work and the personnel operating mobile platforms according to non-standard rules must have a very high level of safety culture, because the risk of an accident depends more on the supervision and vigilance of people than on management systems or modern technology.

 

Rafał Knotek-Trościanko
Training Manager of ODK Ergon

More information:

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